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Second season harvest starts and food security remains favorable

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • November 2011
Second season harvest starts and food security remains favorable

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through March 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Food security across the country continues to improve as second season harvesting begins. Good rains throughout the season have raised expectations of above-average crop production. Harvesting of long-term sorghum and bulrush millet in parts of unimodal Karamoja has also commenced. Overall, the majority of the population in Uganda is expected to have adequate access to food and no acute food insecurity is anticipated through March (IPC Phase 1). 

    • Rangeland conditions in the “cattle corridor” remain favorable, and livestock migration to dry season grazing areas is likely to be delayed until late December. The reopening of the livestock market in Amudat after the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) quarantine is expected to ease the severity of the lean season in this pastoral area. However, the quarantine is still in effect in Kiruhura district.

    • Prices of staple foods are declining, even in urban areas, as second season harvests replenish markets, a trend which is expected to continue through January as market supplies increase. This augurs well for poor households that are market dependent.  

    Updated food security outlook through March 2012

    Sustained heavy rains from October to early November resulted in elevated water levels in isolated low lying areas causing water logging of crop fields and destruction of some crops in eastern and western Uganda. In eastern Uganda, an assessment team led by the Uganda Red Cross reported that about 300 households experienced some losses in their fields as a result of the high water. Nonetheless, rains have been favorable for crop development in most bimodal areas and above-average production is anticipated. By mid-November, rains began to decline in most areas across the country, signaling the end of the second cropping season (Figure 2). This has enabled farmers to dry their crops and prepare for marketing. The harvest of second season crops such as beans, maize, groundnuts, sesame (simsim), sorghum, maize, and sweet potatoes started in some areas, increasing the supply of food, which has resulted in decreasing prices in local markets. For instance, bean prices in production areas such as Gulu, Kabale, Lira, and Mbarara began to drop in October, a month earlier than normal. In Kabale, an urban market in the southwestern region and an important reference market for beans, October bean prices were 13 percent below the 2010 levels but 7 percent above the five-year average, indicating good market supply and therefore improved food access for urban and rural poor households (Figure 3). Prices are likely to drop further to below-average levels in the next three to four months as supplies to the market increase with continued harvests, and as traders release stocks from the previous season in preparation for new stocks.

    The bulrush millet harvest has started in some parts of Kaabong district in Karamoja region but most of the crop will be ready for harvesting in December. Although the harvest of most crops in the agro-pastoral areas of Napak and Moroto districts ended already, some farmers who were mistakenly given long-term variety sorghum seeds instead of the normal short-term variety have yet to begin harvesting. Many farmers will experience losses as unseasonable rains continue if they do not harvest.  Meanwhile, in Abim district, where long-term sorghum is normally grown, harvesting has started and an above-average harvest is expected. This will further bolster stocks of other crops like sesame (simsim), groundnuts, maize, and beans already accumulated from earlier harvests in September/October. With good stocks and expected harvests, the majority of households in Karamoja are expected to remain food secure through March 2012.  

    The light rains that continued into mid-November in the “cattle corridor” have maintained good pasture conditions and adequate water sources in these pastoral and agro-pastoral areas. Livestock migration to dry season grazing areas is, therefore, expected to be delayed until late December/early January when the rangeland resources in wet season grazing areas near homes are expected to dwindle. The livestock market in Amudat district in Karamoja has re-opened after its temporary shut-down to control an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). This has allowed pastoral households to resume selling livestock to buyers from outside the district, who function as the majority of buyers. Pastoral households will now be able to sell their livestock without impediments during the lean season (December to March) when the sale of livestock is critical for household access to adequate food. However, the quarantine against FMD remains in effect in some parts of Kiruhura district and is expected to remain until the end of December before migration begins. Households in these areas can rely on crop production for income in the meantime.

    The majority of households across Uganda are expected to have adequate food availability and access through March 2012. Therefore, the country is expected to remain at None or Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) given no expectations of acute food insecurity for more than 20 percent of the population in a given area.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Rainfall estimates in Lira District

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Rainfall estimates in Lira District

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3. Nominal wholesale bean prices in Kabale

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. Nominal wholesale bean prices in Kabale

    Source: Farmgain Africa

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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